The Dangers of Refined Sugar and Its Impact on Fitness
Sugar: Is it Food or Poison?
Refined sugar is ubiquitous in our culture. Simply visiting a local supermarket, one is convinced that the most common ingredient found in our food today is refined sugar. Omitting the obvious sources like candy and soda pop (which usually occupy 2-3 isles), sugar is hidden in almost all processed foods in the forms of evaporated cane juice, high fructose corn syrup, and molasses. But how unhealthy is sugar? Is it only its high caloric content that induces obesity and all its associated diseases? Or is sugar far more harmful than the calories it adds on?
As a personal trainer, I often advise my clients to avoid refined sugar. Many that are active still believe that as long as they are active, sugar does not have impact on their health. Based on the research I have done, that is a false statement. In fact, refined sugar may seriously debunk your fitness efforts.
First, sugar is not real food! Refined sugar is stripped of all its nutritious values. Consequently, refined sugar cannot be effectively utilized by the body, and if it is not used for immediate energy it will be stored in the liver. Liver capacity for sugar is limited. Daily intake of refined sugar can cause the liver to release sugar back into the blood stream in the form of fatty acids. This often causes unhealthy weight gain that could lead to obesity, and eventually other problems like heart disease.
Refined sugar has no vitamins and no minerals. However, the true dangers of refined sugar are its metabolites; purvic acid and abnormal sugar containing five atoms. According to Dr. William Coda Martin, a poison is any substance that can induce a disease. Based on this general definition, refined sugar can be easily categorized as a poison. These metabolites are toxins to the body, mainly because they interfere with respiration of cells. If the cells are not getting their oxygen, they will eventually die. The death of these cells can take a long time. Therefore, daily intake of sugar may ensue a degenerative disease like cancer, diabetes, osteoarthritis and many more.
Effects of sugar on health and fitness. Sugar has been linked to poor health and obesity for several decades. The following list explains how sugar can have an impact on your health and impede your fitness goals.
o Refined sugar leaches the reserve of vitamins and minerals stored in your body. Depletion of these nutrients impedes the rebuilding process of tissue therefore adversely affecting the response to exercise.
o Refined sugar increase acidity in the body. To neutralize this acid state, the body draws calcium from bones and teeth making them weaker and more susceptible to degeneration.
o Excess sugar is stored in liver. When liver capacity is reached, excess sugar is released into blood stream in the form of fatty acid. Sugar it is then stored as fat on vital organs (possibly causing their malfunctioning) and area least metabolically active (i.e. belly).
o Refined sugar invades the lymphatic system (disease fighting system). This results in increased white blood cells production and therefore the rebuilding of tissue slows down. The response to strengthening training decreases since the body cannot rebuild its self as effectively.
o Since sugar has an effect on the lymphatic system, the immune system is less resilient. One is therefore more susceptible to attacks on the body (i.e. common cold).
It is clear that sugar has more harm to health than the mere calories it may add to ones diet. Use caution when choosing foods that may have refined sugar and try to replace them with natural sweets like fruit, maple syrup, stevia, or raw unfiltered honey.
Stop Sugar Crash and Regain your Energy
What happens what energy fluctuates throughout the day? Does refined sugar have anything to do with that?
There is good chance that those who consume refined sugar often experience a sugar crash. Americans consume approximately 175 pounds of refined sugar a year. Sugar is omni-present in our diet for two reasons. It is cheap to produce. Nearly all of highly processed foods in supermarkets have some corn syrup or other sugar. Corn grows easily through out Midwest and is relatively cheap to harvest. Secondly, processed sugar products, like protein bars, are easily stored and replace REAL meals for a lot of people.
Finally, many people consume sugar because it gives them a short burst of energy. Sugar is not digested in the stomach but enters the lower intestine and thence the blood stream quickly. This leads to brisk insulin secretion which causes the sugar to be absorbed by the tissue at an accelerated rate. This is why we feel awaken after sugar consumption. Eventually, however, the blood sugar level drops and most feel fatigued, irritated, and lethargic.
The body learns quickly. So, the more sugar we consume the more we crave it. The metabolism becomes dependent on refined sugar, so most us feel the need to consume it. Consequently, in attempt to avoid sugar crash most consume sugar throughout the day in order to maintain focus and energy to get through the day.
The following are some tips to avoid sugar crash:
o Eat a balanced breakfast with no sugar (i.e. eggs, bacon, and oatmeal)
o Limit sweets to 2 times a week
o Stay away from white flour for lunch and eat plenty of vegetables
o Eat 4-5 metabolically balanced meals a day (protein, fat, carbohydrates)
o Eat sweets only after a large balanced meal (with plenty of protein)
o Eat plenty of complex carbs throughout the day (vegetables and whole grains)
o Don’t eat sugar before sleep